So, I’ve ridden a bike for some time. Actually, I can’t exactly remember when I started actually rising a bicycle. Like many people, it’s one of those rites of passage that not many remember. As I’ve been riding a bike I’ve learned a different set of rules. Then there’s the quirks of living in an area like Northern Pacifica.
Now, Pacifica isn’t an overly large city. It’s actually quite small. It doesn’t take long to go from north to south. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have it’s difficulty.
One is east to west in the northern area of Pacifica. This area is incredibly hilly. While I was walking my 7-speed cruiser bike up the hill of the road I live on I saw a man who bikes a lot more than me on a 24-speed (at least) biking up my road on one of the lowest settings. These hills are not for the casual biker. They’re pretty steep. They’re wonderful fun to ride down and real work biking back up. I’ve seen professional bikers take a break at the lower condo complex as they’re biking up the hill. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. However, it’s wonderful for walking. It gives you a great place to really work out, even if it’s just a walk.
This one has been a long-time gripe of mine and it’s not just geared towards drivers in Pacifica. I have friends who are motorcycle riders who would also share this complaint. As both a bicyclist and a pedestrian I’ve almost been hit by people in cars more than I can count. And it’s largely because most drivers don’t pay attention to what they’re doing. There are a large amount of bicyclist fatalities in San Francisco because a driver wasn’t cautious and looking out for anything other than other drivers. That’s sad. Maybe drivers need a refresher course to remind them that they’re sharing the road with more than other cars. They share the road with motorcycles and bicyclists. Just today as I was walking my bike over highway 1 (which is its own clusterfuck for… well, almost anyone). I walk my bike because that intersection is a horrible offender for drivers not looking out for pedestrians. I was walking my bike across the cross walk and a guy in the truck proceeded to drive anyways. If I hadn’t watched him he would have hit me and it would have been his fault. I had waited for it to be safe for me to cross (I waited until there was a car to cover going the same direction I was walking.
This is a problem. I know that particular area is awful, period. But you know it’s an area that has pedestrians. I would rather that people start learning to look for pedestrians, cyclists and bikers and not thinking that only cars should be on the road. </end this rant>
Another complaint that I have is bike lanes. Thankfully when bike lines are present in Pacifica, they’re wide enough for both cars to park and bicycles. I love that. It’s far better than the bikes lanes in Foster City. Only some of them were large enough for both cars and bikes, otherwise bike lanes becoming parking areas leaving cyclists to hope that cars are paying attention to what they’re doing. What I don’t like is when there’s a truck facing the wrong direction double-parked in the bike lane. This doesn’t happen often, but it leaves me going, WTF.
There’s a prevalent road hazard that is common place in any beach town, especially when you bike near the water. That hazard is sand. I’ve learned to simply bike around the sand patches. After all, it’s wonderful to feel the sea spray against your face as you’re biking along the coast on a trail. It is totally worth it.
Then there’s trail courtesy. Now I treat a trail like I do a road and treat it like I would if I were driving. If I pass I let the people know that I’m passing. I could be wrong about how I bike on a trail, but that’s the best way I can think of having a shared trail. This is more of something I’m not sure about. Most people (not cyclists) treat it as if they’re walking they have the whole trail, even if you have people walking in the opposite direction. This was a bigger problem on the Bay Trail where you would have mothers with their strollers walking in groups. They would all walk abreast and not be willing to move for cyclists. I also keep an eye out for people walking their pets on flexileashs. I’ve almost hit a dog because their walker wasn’t paying attention to their dog and was busy talking to their friend while their dog was on the other side of the trail. The other tricky problem while trail biking is children. Some parents aren’t exactly the best at keeping an eye on their children. I’ve had children run out in front of me to where I had to break hard. This can be dangerous for both the child and cyclist… especially if you throw a road hazard into the mix (like sand).
Granted, these are a lot of complaints. However, I’m not letting it stop me from biking in Pacifica. It’s a beautiful area. It’s nice to feel the breeze right off the ocean, to hear the Pacific break as you bike by. This area is one of the most wonderful areas to get fit. While cycling can be a challenge, it’s also well worth it. I notice that I’m capable of biking a little further uphill every time. I love the physical challenge that living here affords me. I may not be in the best of shape, but if I keep bicycling here I’m sure that I can start seeing results. Right now I’m pleased with my block by block progress.